GARDA management have warned they will “not tolerate” drug dealers operating “cartels” in Limerick city where a drug feud led to around twenty murders betwen the late 90s and early 2000s.
Twenty four hours after gardai raided a suspected drug supermarket in St Mary’s Park, seizing vehicles, and €50,000 worth of drugs and cash, the dealers were back selling.
Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche warned the dealers: “We are not going to tolerate anybody setting up places where it be regarded as an Aldi or Lidl or anythign else for drugs.”
“And every time they will do it, we will close them down — And we will close them down within a short time.”
“We will prosecute them to the full extent of the law, and we have quiet a lot of people before the courts at the moment.”
Gardai in the city are working closely with the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) investigating alleged “money laundering”, and along with Limerick City and County Council, they are also set to target drug gangs “in every possible way that we can prosecute anybody who thinks that they’re going to set up drug cartels in any area”.
Chief Roche promised that one particularly drug gang, with a stronghold in St Mary’s Park, “will be taken on and I won’t flinch from that at any opportunity”.
“Watch this space for the next couple of months, that’s all I’ll say.”
The meeting heard that gardai locally had arrested 32 people since January this year for drug driving, and that seven drug testing machines were currently in operation, “outstripping” the number of drink-driving testing machines in the Division.
Out of the 601 gardai in the entire division, 18 members are attached to the Divisional Drug Unit in the city and four members if the unit are based in the county.
“They are supplemented by surveillance units, armed support units, which accompany them on nearly most of the drug searches, particularly if there is a hard-entry required, which we often do; that can include removing metal doors as we did (in St Mary’s Park) from a particular premises,” said Chief Roche.
Three extra community gardai are to be deployed to patrol St Mary’s Park.
Chief executive of Limerick City and County Council, Pat Daly said they have agreed to set up a “dedicated taskgroup” with gardai to tackle the scourge, which will also see a fastracking of demolition of derelict houses in the estate.
“Anybody who thinks they are going to set up there, they have another thing coming,” said Chief Roche who said he was “heartened” after receiving “support” from the “decent people of the community”.
“Some individuals have tried to blight the place by dealing drugs”.
Local Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan thanked gardai for their “robust action” in conducting drugs raids in the estate on Thursday, and added: “I got a message from one old lady who said that it was like winning the lotto. People were delighted to see it.”
“Unfortunately what was seized has been replaced already and they are dealing again as we speak unfortunately.”
Chief Roche responded: “Leave that with me, operationally we will be working on that.”